Originally written on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 8/30/12

Are you ready for the Josh McCown show?!  No?  Well, that’s why God invented beer.

The Chicago Bears (2-1 preseason) take on the perennial also-ran Cleveland Browns ( 2-1 preseason) in a final tune-up in Cleveland Thursday night, before their respective regular season openers on September 9th.  The fourth and final preseason games for every team feel more like deflating methadone shots to a twitching, drooling heroin addict jonesing for the real thing.  Josh McCown vs the corpse of Tim Couch.  Catch the excitement!

Preseason football finales were perhaps the initial catalyst for the creation of drinking games.  Want to inject your preseason football blowout party with some more frat-tastic energy?  Drink every time a soon-to-be Fed Ex carrier drops a pass or gets burned on a slant-and-go, only to watch the receiver he is supposed to be covering drop said slant-and-go.

Despite the general triviality of preseason finales, the Bears enter this preseason finale with several legitimate roster concerns, particularly at left tackle.  Will J’Marcus Webb start, or can Chris Williams unseat him?

The safety position battle is also a pressing issue, especially with the season-ending injury to third round draft pick Brandon Hardin.

But for me, no unanswered question is more critical to the ultimate success of the 2012 Chicago Bears than the Alshon Jeffery/Devin Hester battle at wide receiver.  In recent years, the Bears passing game has toiled in mediocrity, or worse, the atrocious stillbirth known as The Caleb Hanie Show.  Since the 2005 season, the Bears have perpetually squandered their Super Bowl defense with such failed wide receiver experiments as Bernard Berrian, Roy Williams and Sam Rock-Slingin’ Hurd.

I don’t have access to every snap in every practice, like Lovie Smith and his esteemed coaching staff do, but what I do possess is common sense, and a strikingly intuitive gut instinct.  And my gut tells me Alshon Jeffery blows up by Year 2 into a top 15 wide receiver in this league.

The quicker the Bears feature Jeffery as an integral part of their aerial attack, the faster Jeffery becomes acclimated to his pre-ordained dominance.  The Bears can simply not afford to squander a year of the frightening Marshall-Jeffery combo by going back to the dried-up “Devin Hester is a wide receiver” well, yet again.

Hester absolutely needs to get several touches per game, but not at the expense of the dynamic one-two punch of Brandon Marshall and the rapidly-developing Jeffery.  The mere thought of Brandon Marshall running fly patterns, fades, and deep comeback routes to the sideline as Jeffery runs post patterns through single coverage, providing a massive target for Jay Cutler’s rocket arm, elicits a drooling, howling Pavlovian response.

Real football is just about back, Bears fans.  So hang tight, crack open a beer or 12 and watch the Bears battle future bouncers, bodyguards, and Zumba instructors of the Greater Cleveland area.  You don’t want to be that one Bears fan who won’t be able to someday brag to his confused grandkids about the night josh McCown threw for 600 yards.

 

Prediction:  Bears -  23, Cleveland Bouncers – 13

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